I don’t really write a whole lot about my job, but now would be a good moment to. I’m a youth/kids pastor. I have started to make sure I throw in the kids part because I spend 70% of my time focused on kids 5th grade and below, and people usually think of youth as middle/high schoolers. I have them too but the kids take up a big chunk of my time.
Yesterday one of our girls was in a pageant, something she’d always dreamed of. She’s been the most faithful kid at church in the time I’ve been there and I was delighted to buy a ticket and go support her. She came out and did this pretty epic hair flip during the casual wear portion, and looked every bit a 10-year-old princess during the formal wear. Then all of the contestants for all of the age divisions stood onstage as they first gave out a photogenic award and then a Miss Congeniality one. Finally they announced the Top 10 girls for each age group.
I sat there waiting to hear them call off 33, because hello she is the most adorable one of them all (in that picture, she’s the one with the big white skirt on her dress in the front row, waving). She deserves ALL THE TROPHIES AND ALL THE TIARAS. They called off number after number and all of the girls standing around her made it, but she didn’t. She stood there a beautiful, uncomfortable mess. and I looked at Hilary and said “I don’t know how you’re a parent. She’s not even my child and I’m about to riot.”
At that moment all I wanted was to wrap my arms around her and tell her that she is funny and brave and that she is SO LOVED. I had a stack of cards for her from church members, telling her that we were proud of her. Hilary had a dozen roses. I wanted her to have all of those things before she could start to get sad.
Because I had to watch her wait for affirmation from people that don’t really know her.
and I do that so often.
I wait for a decent amount of “likes” on my status, or for when my instagram likes goes from a list of usernames to a number. I wait for that to affirm me because somehow I’ve learned to wait for the affirmation of people who don’t really matter.
and the whole time I’m doing that, refreshing my Facebook or instagram or whatever, God is in the back of the auditorium with cards and flowers, wanting to get to me before I can listen to any lies that might creep in when my number isn’t called. He wants to wrap his arms around me and tell me that I am funny and brave and SO LOVED.
We have to learn to wait for the right words from the right people. If not we are stuck on an eternal stage listening as number after number after number is called and it gets harder and harder to forget who is cheering for us as if we are the only person in the whole entire world worth cheering for.